Jack is a married father of 3 and a devout woodworker who loves to create. The family’s moving into a new house. Being a natural go-getter, Jack takes on the whole challenge of designing the comfy new abode—with sliding doors or barn doors.
Jack and his wife Joan care deeply for space and safety.
Space, because the kids are hyper-energetic and need plenty of room to run around and play.
Safety, because the kids could run into something and get seriously hurt.
With his engineering background, Jack is OCD about looking for hazards, and removing them.
So, are barn doors dangerous to children?
Let’s look at it from a few angles.
Is a Sliding Mechanism Dangerous?
Traditional swing doors occupy a radius of up to 13 inches of space on either side of the door frame. Barn doors are installed flush to the wall, and instead of swinging, they slide from side to side on barn door hardware.
Sliding barn doors eliminate the swing radius. They give you this much needed space back. When a swinging door is open outwards, and the kids are running around, it’s possible they’ll run into the door. It’s a hard object and it could injure them.
Are Barn Doors Sturdy?
When it comes to barn doors, it’s not uncommon to see the entire track. It’s there for one reason: barn doors are heavy. This calls for a very strong installation.
Barn doors are trendy enough that the market is flooded with dirt-cheap options. On Amazon, as little as $45 will buy you a no-name barn door hardware kit, complete with floor guides.
Ever read some articles that warn you of all the dangers of barn doors? The door falling off the track? A crooked track, sloppily mounted, screws coming loose and letting the door gradually collapse? Cracking rollers? Rust? Rough motion with friction?
Geez … if your barn door was any of these, you’d be scared for your kids.
To know that the door could fall off at any time, and hurt the kids — that’s more than enough to keep a married couple up at night. Like a monkey on their back. What would you do to get back those hours of heartache and sleep deprivation?
Those pains are common when you choose a cheap barn door set. A little more goes a long way. Even at just a few hundred extra dollars, many track-and-hanger kits have sturdy components made to last a lifetime. Badly-made mounting is the Achilles’ heel of any heavy-duty hardware.
While the right brand may not always be obvious, look in the right places and you’ll relieve yourself of “the curse of the collapsing door.”
Jack has had more experience installing sliding windows than barn doors, as most DIYers only ever need a few tools to get the job done.
All products at Specialty Doors are simple to install for DIYers. All Jack needs to do is follow the instructions, be the careful handyman he is, and install the hardware fully, ensuring everything is tight and secure. Sometimes, quality hardware could only work as good as those who install it.
To see the proper installation of a standard flat-track barn door kit, watch this video from Leatherneck Hardware:
Is a Door in Motion Dangerous?
Barn doors, especially the traditional kind mounted to flat track hardware, can be heavy. The door panels weigh upwards of 200 lbs.
Initially, this may not seem an obvious concern. However, consider a door in motion. Jack, his wife or his kids could give the door little more than a gentle nudge—and it moves softly. And yet, if Jack or his wife were angry (which is rarely the case), or the kids are messing with the barn door out of sheer curiosity, expect rough, boisterous pushing. The resulting inertia means a heavy AND fast-moving door.
Doors that move smoothly, frictionlessly and quietly are great. Yet when they bounce from side to side, it’s double trouble.
Now, imagine one of the kids is running around again … he finds himself in the barn door’s path—it’s moving—and it slams into him. Or it pinches his finger.
What could the family do to prevent this?
Ultimately, danger is not 100% removable. Yet, the parents will be relieved to know they can use some safety measures.
For instance, a Soft-Close (or “Catch and Close,” or “Close-Ease,” or “Soft-Stop”) mechanism is available for nearly all of Specialty Doors’ barn door kits, from rustic to modern.
Soft-Close is a damped mechanism that catches a door in motion at either side, and gently brings it to its resting position. This completely does away with bouncing side to side. To be relieved of that hazardous additional motion, it’s a godsend.
Injury is much less likely when the door is either fully closed, or fully open; not in between.
What it doesn’t eliminate is the risk of fast motion. Naturally, the parents still need to look out for their kids’ safety. That said, to further reduce risk, Jack could add a barn door privacy lock. When engaged, this shuts the barn door tightly in place, so when the door doesn’t need to be moved, the curious kids can’t move it by accident and risk hurting one another.
The privacy lock/latch also adds, you guessed it, privacy, and it’s simple to install.